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Lone Wolves MC
*exclusively in the Hearts Unleashed anthology*
One woman with a mysterious past.
Three wolves with a well-planned future.
A path together that none of them can ignore.
Unleash your heart, indulge your senses, and satisfy your cravings with this fantastic collection of supernatural fiction featuring sensual heroes and sassy heroines, crafted by some of your favorite bestselling and award-winning authors. A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Collection is now available on all retailers for preorder!
LOSE YOURSELF IN THE MAGIC…
Promised to the Pack – Book One
I’m done being the good girl.
If I’ve learned anything in my almost twenty-one years, it’s that always doing what I am told has got me absolutely nothing and nowhere. Exhibit A: my cheating fiancé. Not only do I catch him red-handed on the night before our wedding, but he’s sleeping with Exhibit B: my supposed best friend. This leads to Exhibit C: the part where I take off the blinders, take off the gloves, and take control.
I kick Exhibit A where it hurts, steal his prized bike, and make a beeline down the road of revenge straight into the arms of Exhibit D: Bran Blackwood. To call the Blackwood wolf pack rivals is the king of all understatements. As a Darkbane myself, I shouldn’t even be near him. I know better than to set one toe on enemy territory. I should have kept on riding, but one touch of Bran’s hand, and I’m unwilling to deny myself. And that’s before I meet Exhibits E and F, his brothers Alec and Conan. Once I met Bran, I was lost. Add in Alec and Conan, and I can neither yield nor let go.
I didn’t expect it to mean anything. I didn’t expect it to last.
I certainly didn’t expect it to start a war.
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Promised to the Pack – Book One
What in the unholy hell? If I could shoot daggers from my eyeballs, Zane, my fiancé, and Susan, my best friend, would be impaled, stuck to the headboard of my bed. They would be dead.
Naked and dead.
“You’re supposed to be my best friend.” I glared at Susan, wishing for the daggers. “You’re marrying me tomorrow!” I looked at Zane then, watching the facade I’d built around him for years crumble into the bedsheets. My bedsheets.
“Lena, wait.” Zane put himself in front of Susan as though she needed protection.
She’s sleeping with my fiancé, and he thought she needed to be protected?
I had to get out of here. I took a couple of steps back. My hand landed on the dresser, closing around Zane’s keys.
“Put them down.” Zane’s tone shifted from wheedling to authoritative.
I’ve never been allowed to just grab his keys. One of the many things I wasn’t allowed to do.
“No.” I held out a hand toward the bed, not wanting either of them near me. Another step took me outside the door of the room. I wanted to scream, to rip them apart piece by piece, and then beat them with their own limbs—anything to make them hurt like I’m hurting now.
Instead, I walked down the hallway, keys clutched in my hand. The beginnings of a plan were forming. Voices exploded behind me. I raced down the stairs and wrenched open the front door. I needed to get out of this house. The cool night air hit me, and I filled my lungs, my breath going in and out in ragged, tearing gasps.
I was halfway down the driveway when I heard the footsteps behind me.
I kept going.
“Lena, stop right now.”
I didn’t stop.
A large hand grabbed my upper arm, yanking me backward, nearly pulling my shoulder from its socket. “You’re not going anywhere. Come inside, and we’ll talk about this.”
I didn’t have a choice but to face him. I could see Susan leaning against the front door behind him, silhouetted by the light from the house. She looked so innocent.
Zane’s face, on the other hand, is hard and angry. He wasn’t used to me standing up to him or telling him no in any fashion. “C’mon, Leeny.” His voice dropped, obviously going for gentle.
“Don’t call me that, Zane.”
“That’s what I call you.” His voice is still rough, even though he’s trying to throttle down his anger. “We can work this out.”
“We were supposed to get married tomorrow.” I’m hyper-aware of his hand holding me, not easing up on the pressure. “What were you thinking? How could you do this to me? To us?”
“We are getting married tomorrow.”
“No, Zane. I’m done.”
His hand tightened on my arm again. “You’re not going anywhere.”
“Let me go, Zane!” I pulled against him, but his grip was too strong.
He laughed as he pulled me toward him.
My anger swelled once more, the way I felt when I saw them together in my bed. I called on all my strength, everything I had left. I dragged every ounce of magic I could muster, sending it toward my hands. I reached for his arm and channeled the magic and anger and hurt onto him. I wanted to see him on his ass. Yep. That’s what I wanted—Zane, flat on his ass.
A feeble flame flickered along Zane’s arm, and he laughed as he looked down at it. “Are you trying to hit me with magic? With your magic?” He doesn’t bother to hide his scorn. “You’re not going to do anything other than come inside with me. We have to be up early tomorrow for the ceremony.” The nervy bastard pasted a smile on his lying McLiarpants face.
I jerked backward, wanting to be free of his touch.
He wasn’t expecting me to move in that direction, and he lost his grip.
I didn’t hesitate. I turned to run away from him.
His hand gripped the back of my neck again, hard and unforgiving.
I tried to throw myself back and forth, tried wiggling out of his grasp, and I felt his fingers tighten even more. Small black dots appeared around the edges of my vision, noticeable even out here in the darkness. But I was able to twist and look at him again. I could see the feral glow of his eyes. He was close to shifting. Zane had never been able to fully control his wolf when he was mad.
I had to get away before that happened. Otherwise, I’d be lost in more ways than one.
“Let me go!”
“You’re going to come back inside and do what you’re told.” His fingers punctuated his words by squeezing my neck harder. He pulled me closer.
What, he was going to kiss me? Bite me?
I forced myself to relax a little, and his fingers eased up their pressure on my neck.
Was I really so easy? Did I always give in this easily? He obviously didn’t expect much of me, even now.
“You’ll do what you’re told and quit making a scene, or I’ll make you wish you’d never been born.” His words came out in a growl. The hand on my neck shook me to drive the threat home.
Which brought me closer to his head.
“Zane?” I forced my words to come out in a croak.
I leaned closer and took the biggest breath I could. Then I screamed into his ear.
Humans can’t stand this kind of scream so close to their eardrums. It’s even worse for wolf shifters. Their ears are far more sensitive.
“You…crazy… bitch….” Zane’s words came out in a low, dangerous growl as he stumbled back, clutching at his head.
“You said you loved me. You said this meant everyone knew you loved me.” I wrenched the necklace I’d been wearing for years away from my neck, breaking the chain. “Apparently, you and Susan missed the memo.”
“No!” The one word is a tortured shout—almost too much of a protest.
“This meant nothing. All of it, you, all the shit you told me, it meant nothing!” I tossed the necklace on the ground in front of Zane.
He took a step toward me, one hand on his ear and the other reaching for the necklace.
As a broken witch, all I’ve heard for years is how lucky, how amazingly fortunate I am to be chosen as Zane Darkbane’s bride. They’re a strong, large, and powerful wolf shifter pack, and they chose me. Even though I’m broken. Even though I’m damaged.
I’m lucky to be here.
How many times have I heard that? From Zane’s parents, his friends, Susan—everyone. I guess putting up with him cheating on me in my bed in my house was something I was supposed to ignore?
No fucking way.
A burst of wind passes over me, and I stood up straight. It’s as though the wind had some kind of magic in it because I feel stronger than I’ve felt in a long time. Even now, as a woman cast aside. As a woman who is a broken witch, who’s been told all my life I’m not worth a thing without some man valuing me. My throat will have bruises tomorrow, but getting away from Zane and the rest of the Darkbanes will be worth it.
“You’re… going to regret…this….” Zane is getting closer to me, one hand clutching at the right side of his head.
“I don’t think so.” I squared my shoulders as I cocked my foot back and waited. I’d only get one chance. Part of me couldn’t believe I was even going to do this.
He came a little closer.
Then my foot shot out, and I kicked him in his center, right in the middle of his pelvic bone, right at the spot where it’s supposed to do the most damage to any male—human, wolf, vampire, or otherwise.
The shock of the force reverberated up my foot.
“Ow.” The word came out in a whisper. No one told me this would hurt me.
Zane threw back his head and howled, the howl of a wolf in pain, the kind of howl that cried out for help from any and all wolves in the area.
I didn’t have a lot of time. This place would be swarming with the wolves of the Darkbane pack in about fourteen seconds.
At the sound of the howl, Susan rushed out from the doorway. The sheet she’d wrapped herself in—my sheet, from my bed—billowed around her as though she was some sort of faithless ghost.
Which she was—a ghost of a friend and totally faithless.
“Zane!” Susan’s voice was filled with fear and worry. She didn’t even spare a look for me, her friend.
“He’s all yours!” I yelled. Then I spun on my foot, the one that didn’t hurt, and ran for the street where there were several bikes parked. Most of them were Zane’s. One was Susan’s. I didn’t have a bike of my own. It had been for my protection. At least, that’s what I’d always been told.
“That changes now,” I muttered even as I knew no one could hear me. May as well make this good. I walked to Zane’s favorite, the Harley Fat Boy, with the custom grey, smoke paint job.
As I threw my leg over the bike, I turned the key and revved the engine loudly, calling attention to myself. I looked up to see Zane on the ground, one hand on his cheating wolfy bits and one hand stretched out toward me. It was like watching a bad soap opera. Only this mess was my life. Susan was clinging to his shoulder, obviously talking, but he wasn’t paying attention to her. All his focus was on me. He’s pissed. And hurt. And embarrassed.
For the first time in five, maybe six years, I didn’t care.
I wheeled the bike around and revved the engine just to make sure he saw me. Without a backward glance, I sped out of the small neighborhood. Out of the cocoon of the Darkbane pack. Out on my own.
This should be the worst night of my life. I should be curled in a ball, crying and miserable. Instead, I felt almost giddy.
The tears fell down my face, washing everything away. The lies I’d been told for years. My entire relationship with Zane. All the crap they told me. I knew, as sure as I knew my own name, it had all been a lie. Why hadn’t I seen it before? What was different?
I didn’t really care. I saw the truth now.
I let myself cry as I drove into the night. This was necessary. I must do this; I have to cleanse myself of them. As I cried, I started to feel lighter, to sit up taller. I took a firmer grip on the handlebars.
Now it’s time to make them all pay. Pay for what—I wasn’t sure. But I knew, as sure as I knew my own name, that everyone knew about Zane. Knew he wasn’t faithful. And they still told me how lucky I was, made sure that I always felt less than, barely good enough.
The how of making them pay was a question I couldn’t answer. At least not right now. The tears fall down my face, dried almost instantly by the wind. How could I have missed this? And with Susan, my best friend?
Did everyone know?
Susan hadn’t even apologized, didn’t try to make any sort of excuses. She just looked at me with what looked like a blank stare, like she couldn’t believe I was there or making a fuss. She was my maid of honor.
More like maid of dishonor. I choked out a laugh.
Even with the tears that still fell unchecked, Susan was welcome to Zane. In the moment when he’d moved in front of Susan, taken her side over mine, the woman he pledged to love—in front of the entire pack, I might add—I was done. Done. It hurt. I wasn’t going to pretend it didn’t.
But I didn’t feel like my life was ending, either. Rather, from the moment I threw Zane’s tacky ass lie of a promise necklace at him, I felt amazing. Like I’d been reborn or just woken up from a long nap.
I was free. Free to do whatever I wanted.
What I wanted now was for Zane to feel the hurt that I did. He wouldn’t because if he were capable of that kind of feeling, he wouldn’t have been sleeping with my best friend.
I’d have to settle for humiliation on the public stage.
What would make Zane Darkbane clench his hands, teeth, and wolf self in rage?
My lips curled into a smile as I took the next left and headed for the spot that would make him wish I’d just kicked him in the balls again.
I knew exactly where I was going.